UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti not hot on cryptocurrency, but likes blockchain

Finance


Cryptocurrencies still need to be “defined” but the technology behind them will be pivotal in transforming the financial services, the chief executive of Swiss lender UBS said Friday.

Sergio Ermotti told CNBC that while the bank has seen success in its trade finance blockchain platform, he was “not necessarily” a believer in cryptocurrencies.

When asked whether he liked virtual currencies, he said: “Not necessarily cryptocurrencies, I think that needs to be defined, but I believe there is a future for blockchain technology, and technology will play a big role in changing and reshaping our industry.”

Also known as distributed ledger technology, blockchain allows data to be stored across a network of computers around the world rather than at one single location.

UBS has been involved in a blockchain project — called Batavia — with IBM and other banks, including Commerzbank and Bank of Montreal.

“Our strategy there is very simple. We try to initiate and get as many other financial institutions and clients into teams like trade finance with other banks and IBM was a successful venture,” Ermotti said.

Ermotti added that the technology would form an ecosystem that enables financial institutions to “operate and transact at a cheaper, more efficient level.”



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